Sunday, January 05, 2014

Special Company!

We were so excited to have Amy and Jason, along with their sons Zachary and Jacob, come stay with us last week!  They were coming to DC to sight-see, and they definitely saw a ton of things!  They drove in Wednesday afternoon, straight downtown, since the weather was pretty nice.  We met them at the Jefferson Memorial, and then we proceeded to tour all the memorials in one afternoon--hard-core tourism right there, especially with little kids, LOL.  Our first stop after the Jefferson Memorial was the FDR Monument.
 I will be perfectly honest and admit that I actually had no idea this existed.  Clearly I have not wandered around the Tidal Basin enough, because this thing is absolutely huge--7.5 acres!  It is between the Jefferson and the MLK Memorial.  It is divided into 4 outdoor "rooms", to represent FDR's 4 tours, and it was built in 1997.  Clueless as we were, since we were coming from the Jefferson Memorial, we entered the maze from the end, seeing the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt first. Better to come at it from the Lincoln Memorial side.

Anyhow, this statue of him above is in the 3rd "room", and he is posing with his dog Fala, who is really cute.  Also, her (his?) ears are golden where everyone has rubbed them.  Awww . . . The actual statue of FDR, however, was literally ghastly.  He was a bilious drippy green color, especially on his face--he really doesn't appear to be weathering well!

We continued wandering through the different rooms.  The symbolism probably would have been a bit more clearer had we been going in chronological order by starting on the other side.  Also, it would have been clearer had it been summer, because water is supposedly a great symbol throughout the memorial, with different waterfalls representing different things.  The first one (chronologically) was a smooth drop, representing the stock market crash leading to the Great Depression, then there was a waterfall with steps, representing the Tennessee Valley Authority's damn-building projects.  There there was a really choppy chaotic waterfall representing WWII, and lastly a still reflecting pool representing his death.  Unfortunately, the water was all turned off and drained, so we got none of that symbolism either.  
 The part that really stumped us was the room that included this large mural and 5 big pillars.  Each panel of this mural had been sort of like pressed into the pillars, so these pillars have the inverted images of all these random things on them--initial, hands, braille, weird shrunken heads . . . it was very odd.  I googled, but all I could find was that this part represented the New Deal, and that it was just a "collage of various scenes and objects".  Well, yes, but how on earth do shrunken heads represent the New Deal?  Totally weird.

Anyhow, a boatload of money was spent to make this monument, I am sure, since it is so sprawling.  From the reviews online, everyone loves it because it is shady (not a plus during winter, but I can appreciate that for summer!) and also not crowded because not that many people know about it (again, not an issue during winter!), and finally it has lots of places for good pictures with all the water features.  There you have it.
 Next we moved on to the MLK Jr. Memorial, and I must say I really liked this one!  The symbolism made perfect sense, the quotes were moving and appropriate, and it really seemed to honor his legacy.  The quote on the actual statue is "Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope", and the part with MLK carved on it looks like it has just come out of the "mountain" of granite behind it.  I was glad to see this memorial in person.

Then we moved on to the Korean War Memorial.  I hadn't seen that one before in person either.  It is moving to see the statues of the soldiers, looking like they are on patrol, and the wall with all the pictures sandblasted onto it.  If the kids hadn't been getting grumpy, I would have liked to spend more time here.
Then it was on to the Lincoln Memorial!  Drew was in a stroller, and I didn't feel like finding a handicap way to get up all those steps with him, so he and I just hung out on the big flat part, doing endless loops.  He almost fell asleep, but not quite.

By the time everyone finished up, Micah and Faith were getting quite crabby, Anna was really cold, and Drew was unhappy too.  We quickly saw the Vietnam Wall and the World War II Memorial (which is another one of my favorites, but lacks something with all the water off and rained!), and we walked past the Washington Monument on the way back to the van.  Whew!  Good thing spaghetti sauce was in the crockpot waiting for us when we got home!

Amy and her family went back in to DC Thursday and Friday.  They toured the Capital and the White House, as well as the National Archives, Ford's Theater, and the Museum of Natural History and possibly more than I'm not remembering, LOL.  Now Bob, Nathan, Luke, and the McC's toured the White House several years ago (but alas, I can't find my blog post about it).  It was a lengthy tour, and Nathan came back with a ton of random interesting information he had learned from the knowledgeable tour guide.  For Amy's tour, however, there was no actual guide.  They just wandered through 5 or 6 rooms, where there was a person seated in each room to answer any questions you might have.  Of course, how do you know what questions to even ask??  So it was only about 35 minutes long.  It's too bad, because, as Christine says, once you lose those things, they will never come back.
 In the evenings, we really enjoyed having them around!  Many games were played, including Settlers and a hilarious game of Balderdash.  Friday night Nathan and Luke had a bowling party with their Civil Air Patrol squadron, so Zach got to go to that with them.  (Nathan had the highest score among the cadets!  Good to see that the bowling part of our curriculum has been so successful, LOL.)  Amy and I stayed up late talking, of course.  It was such a treat!!  We were so sad when they left to drive back to Ohio Saturday morning.  I am so thankful for such a faithful friend as Amy!  It's hard to believe we've known each other for close to 30 years!  She is definitely like a sister to me!

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